This post originally ran in April 2008. I am reposting it now, as part of my throwback thursday project, to give some of my older quality posts some love. The ability to see trends is an important one to a support analyst, I would go so far as to call it an essential skill.
Most models of computer have one or two errors that you classically begin to see within about a year of their release. Be it motherboard issues, harddrive failures or simply keyboard malfunction, they all have them. The problem is that for each new model, there’s a new standard error. Some are shared across a range of similar models, whereas some are specific to a batch of computers.
These errors are something that you learn to live with; you learn to roll with the punches as it were, and to diagnose them. The problem here, is of course that what you see (the symptoms) isn’t always what you’ve got.
An example of this is HP’s nc6220 series computers, that presents itself with a Non-System Disk or Disk Error, leading users and supporters alike to assume that the harddrive is dead. Of course, this is partly because a previous model, the nc6000, had a large batch of bad drives that would kick the bucket after about a year or so.
With the nc6220, the error is not, however, in the harddrive, but on the motherboard, more specifically located in the harddrive controller. Other symptoms include slow boot, slow or no access to BIOS and inability to boot from a CD. The ultimate test is, of course, to put the harddrive into a different computer, and test it. If it boots, you know.
With IBM and Lenovo’s T4x-range of computers, the classic problem is a different one, but none the less annoying. Here, too, the motherboard calls it a day (or life if you will), but the symptoms are no output to both the on-board and any external monitors that might be connected.
Personally, I prefer motherboard failures, because, although annoying and time-consuming, the user does not end up losing data, which they would with a harddrive failure.